Sixteen clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the West Midlands are launching an integrated approach to urgent care services in the area.
Lead by NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, the region is introducing integrated NHS 111 access and Out of Hours (OOHs) GP services to alleviate pressures across the health system.
As part of this model, which will be available to patients from November, new contracts have been awarded for the delivery of NHS 111 services and OOHs GP services in six parts of the region.
Meanwhile, ongoing contracts are being varied so that the providers deliver services to a regional specification.
All providers across the region have signed up to an “alliance agreement”, which encourages them to work together towards the common goal of integrated, quality care for patients 24 hours a day.
Jonathan Leach, a GP and clinical lead for NHS 111 and the commissioners, said: “The new service provides a single access point through the NHS 111 service, which will direct patients to the right service for their needs.
“The service redesign will enable earlier clinical assessment and advice through the introduction of a clinical hub. We are also introducing closer working between 111, out of hours and wider urgent care partners.
“Patients will be able to access these services by dialling 111, will be assessed, and will then be signposted to the most appropriate level of care for their need.”
He added: “This is a pivotal moment for urgent care services as it provides a model to enable patients to access the right care, in the right place and at the right time.
“The model will bring closer working relationships between the urgent care system, the GP out of hours services, social care, the ambulance service and the NHS 111 service, ultimately aiming to provide a service that benefits patients round the clock.
“This is about meeting the demands of a growing population, and mirrors the vision set out by NHS England to provide local health services that are fit for purpose and meet the needs of our patients.”
The new contracts awarded as a result of a recent competitive procurement process cover NHS 111, Worcestershire and Warwickshire Out of Hours services to be delivered by Care UK, Out of Hours GP services for Birmingham South Central by Badger Group, Herefordshire and Sandwell & West Birmingham Out of Hours by Nestor Primecare, and Rugby Out of Hours by Vocare.
These new contracts will be implemented alongside ongoing local contracts, all of which will be bound together under the umbrella of an overarching alliance agreement.